TWENTY-eight students were suspended from a large secondary school after an inappropriate message about a teacher was put online.
A number of the students from Colaiste Chiarain secondary school in Croom, Co Limerick, were suspended last week for two days while others, who were on work experience, began their suspension yesterday.
It's understood the controversial message on Facebook featured an image and text concerning the personal life of a teacher. The item was eventually removed from the social media site, according to the principal Noel Malone.
Mr Malone defended what he described as an "unprecedented" decision to suspend the students insisting they had breached the school's anti-bullying policy.
He said it was a "gross invasion of a member of the school community's personal life".
Facebook allows users who view a message to click a button showing their appreciation by "liking" it. It is understood all 28 suspended students had done so. Mr Malone insisted he thought hard before suspending the students and said the parents of those concerned were for the most part "very supportive" of his decision.
"Basically, the school would take a very strong view on this, we need to constantly be vigilant to protect all our school community."
Cholaiste Chiarain is one of the largest secondary schools in Limerick with about 70 teachers and 900 students.
"Obviously, it's a very sensitive matter for the people concerned but what I can say is that certain inappropriate postings on a newly created Facebook page – not part of the official school website or an individual student's website – was brought to my attention."
He said students and staff needed to realise the consequences of what can be done "quite inadvertently" but where "the consequences can be very grave".